Previously a member of Him_Self_Her, Just Her has spread her wings, taking full control of the production process in order to express herself in the most unadulterated way possible. Just Her joins the Bantwanas Sessions podcast series that has seen mixes from the likes of Blanka Mazimela, The Lazarusman, Bruce Loko, Goldfish and Ryan Murgatroyd, amongst many others, over the last year. This is definitely our favourite release from the series and we are excited to share this epic journey through sound with you. We were lucky enough to catch Just Her for a quick chat about the mix and other ongoings in her career.
What spurred your love affair with the dance music scene in South Africa? - It all started when a track that I made as Him_Self_Her, called ‘Gone Too Long’ was picked up by South African label Soul Candi and started to get daytime radio play. That deep house sound was huge in South Africa at the time, and the track ended up reaching number 2 in the 5fm chart and becoming a huge anthem out there. So I came for a mini tour as Him_Self_Her, and I just couldn’t believe the reception and the vibe, it was unreal.
I also fell in love with the country itself, the people and the culture, and I’ve since been back again as Him_Self_Her and then twice under my solo alias ‘Just Her’ and every time I’m blown away by how welcome and at home I feel. I have explored a lot of the country now and made some life long friends, plus the last time I toured in May; I got to play at the incredible AfrikaBurn festival out in the Tankwa Desert, which was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.
Tell us about the mix you did for Bantwanas. - With any mix I do, I like to go on a bit of a journey from deep electronica through to more driving techno. For the Bantwanas Sessions, I tried to bring a slight African flavour in parts of the mix, but I also wanted to keep it rooted in that more European sound that I’ve become known for as Just Her, and I hope I achieved a nice balance between the two. As always, I like to make sure it’s an emotive mix with plenty of melodies and vocals, and there are also a few exclusives in there, including a couple of unreleased tracks from me, plus a sneak preview of my collaboration with South African producer Ryan Murgatroyd.
How did your connection with Ryan Murgatroyd and Bantwanas come about? - I first met Ryan when I played for a party called Strange Loving in Cape Town a few years back, and I suddenly realised that I used to play his music almost ten years ago! So we had an instant musical and personal connection and since then we have crossed paths each time I’ve been in South Africa. We had planned for a while to try and get into the studio together, but it always seemed to get hampered by my touring schedule, food poisoning or various other issues! Then last time I visited in May, I had a few days off in Cape Town, and we managed to make it happen, although it was pretty tight time-wise and I think I worked him harder than he has ever worked before; that must be the teacher in me!
I also really needed a place to do some admin work while I was there, to keep my record label running, and luckily Ryan’s manager Jarrad let me work in his amazing office space with other creatives for a couple of days. Jarrad runs the Bantwana Sessions and so it all just fell together, and we all thought it would be a nice way for us to showcase my collab with Ryan too. It was all so much fun that I came back from that trip considering a permanent move to South Africa! Maybe one day...
You recently played at London's The Egg, how did that go down? - EGG has been one of my favourite clubs to play at in the UK for quite a few years now. There is always a really great vibe in there, especially on the terrace. I’m a resident for a night called 'Sabajaq' which is really cutting edge both visually and musically, and this time I was playing the opening set before Paride Saraceni and the amazing Green Velvet. I was kind of expecting to do a slow and groovy warm up set and build the dynamics as the room filled up, but I didn’t realise that the terrace was going to be completely packed and absolutely buzzing ten minutes into my set! I played for two and a half hours, and the dance floor was electric the whole time, it was definitely one of my best experiences at EGG over ten years of playing there.
Just Her is a relatively new alias for you, what's it like being in full control of the direction of the music? - Well, I was working solo for a long time before I founded Him_Self_Her, and it was always part of the plan to continue to produce solo material, to allow me to fully express myself musically, especially from a songwriting and melodic point of view. It has also given me the chance to set up my music and visual art concept ‘Constant Circles’ as that is a personal goal I’ve had for a number of years. Sometimes it is nice to work with someone, to get a second opinion on things and to share ideas and experiences with, and that is why I’ve continued to do the occasional collaboration. But at the same time there is always an element of compromise and sacrifice when working with another person, so it is great to have full control of your musical direction, and your DJ sets.